By Vickie Walker –
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you – Maya Angelou
I was born a Mormon. This statement reflects what has been a part of my DNA from the time I took my first breath. Mormonism has been the foundation from which all parts of my life have sprung up and grown. My path was this path. This is what I was taught, this is all I knew. Then came junior high school.
In junior high school my traditional “coat of Mormonism” seemed to not fit as comfortably. I was now exposed to life outside of my family and tight little community. Much to my parent’s frustration, I asked hard gospel questions. I tried to debate the policy on the priesthood. I supported the ERA(Equal Rights Amendment). I hero worshipped a past president who was also a democrat, John F. Kennedy. In retrospect, I am grateful for these opportunities to find my individuality within my religion. Untraditional thinking would be a blessing throughout my life.
Mormonism continued to be a big part of my decision-making process; who should I date, who should I marry, how should I raise my children. While my husband and I were raising our family of four, I continued on my career path as a marketing director in the design field. I worked with beautiful, interesting, creative men and women and yes, many of them were gay. I spent many hours with my gay friends on planes and in cars traveling to job sites listening to their stories. I wanted to be with them on their journey, to share their triumphs and their heartache. They were my co-workers, my friends, my teachers. They were a blessing to me then and continued to be a blessing as I raised my family.
In 2003 a few years after my eldest son returned from his LDS mission my world shifted. Sitting on the stair landing in our living room he tearfully confided in me, he was gay. It was something we had suspected through the years but were never sure. To actually hear him speak those words, although somewhat prepared, still shifted our world. Our handsome, tender hearted, fun loving, devoted son was also gay. We no longer had secrets between us, just truth. Interestingly, one of my first thoughts was how we would help him navigate his religious journey within Mormonism since he held onto his faith so dearly.
We hugged and cried and talked about how we would support this new chapter in his life, together as a family. My son loves to tell me one of the things my husband said to him a few years after he came out. “Son, I sure don’t get you sometimes, but I’ll always love you”. Those words have meant so much to my son since my husband tragically passed away four years later. Complete love and acceptance from a father to his son. I am happy to report my darling son has an amazing job in Sydney, Australia and has a lovely partner. He is happy and healthy and continues to melt my heart completely.
Our family’s experience down the rainbow road did not end with my oldest son.
In 2015, one month after the POX or Policy of Exclusion was released, my youngest son came out to me. Having served a mission as well, he was determined to be true to himself yet hold on to his faith. His goal was to make a difference within our congregations and change hearts and minds regarding our LGBTQ+ friends and family. His heart was so pure and determined, he made such a valiant effort, but in the end, he felt disheartened and discouraged by the words of the policy. He knew he did not want to be alone, he knew he wanted marriage and he knew he wanted a family. Because of his internal truths, he also knew he needed to step away from the church he loved. He was stepping away from the institution but not the gospel.
As my youngest son began to date, I will freely admit I went into mamma overprotective mode. I was hypersensitive to who he was dating. I played twenty questions with him after every date. What was their background? Were they kind? Were their parents supportive? The questions were endless and my son was mostly patient with my over mothering. In my defense, I just wanted his beautiful heart protected and cherished by someone equally as special. I carried a prayer in my heart every waking minute.
About ten months later, my son brought home a young man to meet me. As usual, I was wary until I knew more about him. I had watched my son over the last year grapple with his faith and how that would fit with being gay. That evening there was no grappling, I looked over at my son and saw something I had not witnessed in many years. He was literally smiling from the inside out. There he was standing next to his boyfriend, complete. Complete in his happiness. Complete in his peacefulness. My son had found his “one” and marriage was on the horizon and I was so happy.
I know that some of our religious friends may not understand the joy coming from your child entering into a gay marriage; some may see it as an endorsement of sin, and as a compromise of what we have been taught. But that isn’t how God speaks to us about it. That isn’t what it is about for me.
For us as parents of LGBTQ+ children, you might want to “take a stance for the truth” and avoid attending or not celebrating their weddings, inviting their partners over for dinner, or including the person they are dating in the family Christmas gathering. But we need to learn to lean in and love unconditionally. There is so much happiness ahead.
Case in point, traditionally my homeward will give a shower for each young man and woman who are getting married. I was told by two of my friends, nothing was different with my son and his fiancé and they were already planning a shower. I watched as the women from my ward interacted with my son and his fiancé. There was a joyful energy as everyone showed support and love to this young couple. It was truly a small slice of what heaven must be like, loving, accepting and valuing each other. As is customary at wedding showers, the couple are asked to share their story of meeting. As these two young men described in beautiful detail their sweet romance, there was nary a dry eye in the room. This was their love story and it was tender, sweet and joyful with cause to be celebrated, and it was.
My son and his fiancé planned a beautiful destination wedding on the beach in Mexico. Only immediate family were invited, thus ensuring the most supportive and joyful atmosphere for such a sacred commitment. Both mothers had the privilege of walking our sons down the aisle. As I looped my arm through my son’s arm, the tears could not be stopped. I was walking beside him, just as I had his whole life. I was walking him towards the love of his life. I was walking him towards the person that made him smile from the inside out, the person who made him feel loved and safe. My son is living in his divine nature.
I could feel the love my Heavenly Father had for these two young men that day, it was tangible to all in attendance.
As mother’s, we need to remember Heavenly Father has called us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. He has called us to speak up for those who are voiceless: our LGBTQ children need us to walk beside them. Our Father has been continually granting us a deeper and deeper understanding of what unconditional love really is; He has been revealing how we can trust in His unconditional love for us, and how we can display that love to others.
I am forever grateful for the scripture in John 15:12, “This is my commandment. That you love one another, as I have loved you”. This scripture has become my mantra.
This untraditional mother loves her untraditional family continues to walk an untraditional path in faith and with love.
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud – Maya Angelou